Riding toys for toddlers can provide hours of fun while improving muscle tone and coordination. If you build you're own, you can personalise it, making sure it's the right size and reflects the child's interests. Many patterns are offered online, but you can create your own using these directions.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Child's colouring book
- Graph paper
- Newsprint or other large paper
- Measuring tools
- Carpenter's pencil
- No. 2 pencil
- 3/4-inch plywood
- 1x3-inch lathing
- Sabre saw
- Carpenter's glue
- Finishing nails
- Coarse string
- Sand paper
- Cotton or nylon rope
- Non-lead-based paint or finish
- 4 swivel casters
- 2-inch bolts
- 1-inch dowel rod
Measure your toddler. A larger child needs a sturdy riding toy of appropriate height. A smaller child needs a toy that will not be too large or difficult to move. The child's feet should comfortably reach the ground when the child is sitting on the toy and his knees should not point toward his chin.
Mark and cut out the pieces. Using newspaper or other large paper, create patterns for the various parts. You'll need an hourglass shaped piece for the seat; two squares built from 1X3-inch lathing (these squares need to be made so that the 1-inch part will be the part to contact the hourglass shaped base, and the 3 inch ends will join at the corners) to go under the seat and front to attach the legs; a matching hourglass shape for the base; 2 more squares built from 1x3 lathing to secure the base of the legs; a neck/head piece; and two small lengths of 1X3-inch lathing to place between the two squares of lathing under the seat and on top of the base to strengthen the centre of the structure. The legs can be created by using four 1X3-inch lengths of a height that will be correct for the child's height, minus 1-1/2 inches (for the base and the seat) and the height of the swivel casters, and by cutting right triangles with the tops cut off that will be secured at right angles to the 1X3-inch wood stock. The triangles for the back legs should be a little wider at the base of the triangle than the front legs, but none of them should exceed the inside measurements of the bracing squares.
Assemble the parts. Begin with the seat. Glue the squares of 1x3-inch stock on the fat ends of the hourglass shape, with one edge flush with the flat part on each end. Tack with finishing nails to hold securely. If desired, wood screws may be added for strength. Secure the centre brace (1 x 3 x appropriate length) between the squares. Next, assemble the base, in similar manner, except that the squares of 1x3-inch wood stock will be on top of the hourglass shape. Secure the casters to the bottom of the base, on the opposite side from the squares. Bore four holes the same size as the bolts in the top and bottom of the leg pieces. Assemble the four legs by gluing the 1x3-inch stock to the truncated right triangles and tacking them together using finishing nails. Again, screws may be added if desired. Place the leg pieces inside the bottom bracing squares with the 1X3-inch stock facing forward or back, and the plywood triangles on the sides. Use a No. 2 pencil to reach through the pre-drilled holes and mark placement of the bolts. Make sure the small end of the leg assembly points down, and the fat end points up at the seat. Next, use the same method to mark the braces on the saddle. Carefully drill holes at each marked spot. Check to make sure all the holes line up. If they are correct, glue the pieces together. Insert bolts through the holes with the rounded side out, the screw threads to the inside. This will prevent the bolt ends from snagging clothing or scratching the child. Tighten bolts securely.
Add the head. Create a head by drawing a head of the child's favourite animal in profile on the plywood. Make sure to create a wide neck base for securing to the seat. Cut two head pieces. Fasten the base of the head on both sides of the front hourglass shape. Brace the top using 1x3-inch stock the same length as the width of the front hourglass shape. At the back of the head, drill a 1-inch hole in both pieces. Thread the dowel rod through this space and secure with glue. This is the handle.
Create a tail. An easy way to do this is to drill a hole in the back of the rear hourglass shape. Cut 24-inch lengths of coarse string, double the bundle of strings, push the loop end through the drilled hole. Pull up the string till it makes a nice loop, then pull the other end of the strings through it. Tighten the loop, and make a knot at the base of the string next to the seat to keep it secure.
Sand any rough edges. Paint the toy with a clear finish or with latex paint to resemble the chosen animal.
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